North Bay city council is tackling the climbing cost of emergency services, but some worry trimming costs could mean saving fewer lives.

While many cities face the problem, North Bay is now seriously looking to curb the rising costs of its fire department.

City council will receive a report tonight that lays out several ways to save tax dollars spent on fire protection. The report will be debated over the coming weeks.

North Bay fire fighters association president Robb Roy says he is concerned public safety will be cut along with the department's budget — and believes council should instead look to cut elsewhere in city hall.

"I don't know what the solution is,” he said. “I don't think the fire service is as big a problem as compared to everything else, as council is making it out to be."

Not sustainable

The proposed changes to the North Bay fire department include dropping the number of firefighters on duty from 16 to 14.

"If these cuts go through, I do believe they will affect public safety,” he added.

There are also proposed changes to how a fire call is handled.

"[We would] pull up in front of your house and we'll be standing out on the sidewalk with our hoses spraying water from the outside,” Roy said. “[We would] not [be] going in to perform any rescues."

North Bay city councillor Dave Mendicino said no decisions have been made.

He said the city, like others across the north, has to curb the ballooning budgets for emergency services.

"We've gotten ourselves to a point — and I don't think we're any different from any other municipality quite frankly — where we can't sustain five-to-six per cent year over year increases to the budget."

Mendicino said the report will likely be referred to committee, and the options pored over in the coming weeks.